It boasts 37 storeys, a sky garden and the latest Grade A office space with spectacular views. But right now, the hottest pre-let space in the Walkie-Talkie (aka 20 Fenchurch Street) is its cycle parking.
Pre-lets on cycle parking at the building have already reached 100%, despite pre-lets on office space currently standing at only 50%.
It’s part of a wider pattern across the City of London, which has seen demand for cycle parking soar over the last decade, while office developers have failed to keep up with the trend.
Around 10,000 people cycle into the City each day, accounting for 15% of all traffic commuting into the area. Making allowance for visitors to the area, London City planners estimate that one in ten City workers cycle to the office.
But the provision of cycle space at many of the city’s office buildings falls far short of this one in ten ratio. Take the examples of some of its most iconic buildings.
Heron Tower has just 256 cycle parking spaces, yet at maximum capacity, it can accommodate 6,500 workers, meaning a ratio of one space to every twenty-five residents. A similar ratio can be found at the Shard, where 250 cycle spaces are available to its 6,500 residents and their visitors. Workers at the Gherkin fare even worse, with thirty-three to each cycle space.
City of London planners are understandably concerned. They estimate that the Square Mile already needs an additional 27,000 cycle parking spaces to meet current demand. And of course, with the growing popularity of cycling as an environmentally friendly and cost effective method of commuting, this is likely to increase further over the next few years.
They recognise that employment density is the biggest issue, particularly in high-rise office buildings which lack ground space. In a 2012 review, they highlighted areas of intense high-rise development around Fenchurch Street, Bishopsgate and Aldgate as unlikely to be able to meet the need for cycle parking.
So their attention is shifting to new office developments. City planners intend to double the current City of London standard for cycle parking in new developments to one space per 125m² of gross office floor space. They are also working on guidance which will advise developers on designing cycle-friendly facilities in all new buildings.
It’s a move which will place additional restrictions on the design of future skyscrapers in the area. But with most cyclists preferring parking which is close to the office, bicycle-friendly buildings are set to be an important part of future office developments for the City.
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